Health (Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art)
Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz (ed.)
White Chapel Gallery, 2020
In an era of fitness programs, increasing antidepressant usage, nutrition counseling and health-management apps, wellness is one of the defining issues of contemporary life, dictating every intimate aspect of our lives. Historically, art has been entwined with the values of medicine, beauty, and the productive body that have defined western scientific paradigms; contemporary artists are increasingly confronting and reshaping these ideologies, critically tackling illness and impairment in their practice while challenging ableist institutional dynamics. In this volume, artists, curators, writers, and thinkers engage with the ways the vulnerability of our bodies reveals structural aspects of our societies.
At a moment at which epidemics and global warming menace all forms of life, we see clearly how health intersects with sexuality, ethnicity, gender, class, and coloniality. By reclaiming other realities, beyond a state of health as a norm, this book questions the myths, stigmas, and cultural attitudes that shape normative perceptions, revealing the interdependence of our entangled existences. The book includes four newly commissioned texts: by artists Mahmoud Khaled and Patrick Staff, by curator Clare Barlow on disability in the museum, and by curator Portia Malatjie on the work of Dineo Seshee Bopape. It also features two texts on the current COVID-19 pandemic, by Anne Boyer and Filipa Ramos.